November 28, 2011 archive

SOPA Updates: Matt Cutts Summary, European Parliament Resolution, Sandia Labs, BSA

US Capital
In the ongoing debate around the controversial "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)" bill in the US Congress (that I have covered previously here and here), there are four updates worth reading:
  • First, Matt Cutts provided a comprehensive SOPA update last week talking about all the online activism and support against the bill. Great collections of links, and I loved this part at the end:
    I thought we’d have to wait 20-25 years before a critical mass of people would defend the net. But SOPA has brought that day a lot closer. SOPA galvanized the tech community, from start-ups to venture capitalists to the largest web companies. SOPA was an unexpected shock and a wake-up call. Well, guess what? Now the internet is awake. And I don’t think it’s going back to sleep any time soon. We might need to rally again in the near future, but we can do that. The internet learns fast.
  • Sandia National Laboratories responded to a request from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren with a letter outlining why SOPA wouldn't work and would decrease our cybersecurity.

  • The European Parliament adopted a resolution that included among its many clauses, one (#25) that spoke specifically to SOPA/Protect-IP issues:
    Stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names;
  • Finally, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents many of the largest tech companies and had been promoted as supporting SOPA, clarified their position and indicated that the law as written is too broad and could have unintended consequences.

All in all a much better situation than was the case two weeks ago...

Image credit: jasonippolito on Flickr

Please note that this blog post represents my personal opinion and has no connection whatsoever to any employers or other organizations, either past or present.

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Om Malik’s Reflections (and Stats) on 10 Years of Blogging

Om malik
Over the weekend Om Malik published a great piece that's worth reading if you are a writer / blogger:
My 10 years of blogging: Reflections, Lessons & Some Stats Too

It's a wonderful story of how Om first got into blogging... providing some history and names that will be familiar to many. He also provides some rather incredible stats. Here's just one of the sets of stats:

  • 11,165 posts
  • About 3 posts a day, every day for roughly 10 years.
  • About 2.06 million words.
  • About 215 words per post.

An amazing amount of content over all those years. His post has more stats and some great charts.

His "10 lessons learned" are also a great read, particularly his #4 about writing every day, and #5 and #8 which speak to the civility that has always been a hallmark of Om's writing.

I began "blogging" back in May 2000, before the term "blogging" was really even widely used. My writing back then was largely about open source and then in 2001 increasingly about voice-over-IP (VoIP) as the startup I was with (e-smith) in Ottawa was acquired by Mitel Networks and I entered the telecom space.

At that time, there weren't all that many of us who were regularly writing online about VoIP / telecom matters... Jeff Pulver, of course, and Andy Ambramson, Tom Keating, Alec Saunders, Aswath Rao... and probably a few more that my aging memory forgets.

And, of course, there was Om.

He was always there to write about what was happening in the overall telecommunications space and specifically in the "new" world of communications over the Internet. In those early years, we were often referencing what others wrote on their pieces... it was a smaller world and we all pretty much knew each other. (Although in truth I only met Om face-to-face once or twice at one of the various conferences like VON.)

I don't recall now what Om originally called his site but pretty soon his "GigaOm" site became one of THE places to go to stay up on what was going on.

Gigaom 1

It was quite inspiring to watch as Om took the leap and turned his passion into a full-blown media site... and then a whole network of sites. Even as he encountered and survived health issues, his "media empire" kept growing and growing and growing...

It's certainly been an impressive first 10 years... and I look forward to Om's next 10 years. His "big picture" writing has always been thoughtful and I'm looking forward to seeing even more of it.

I enjoyed, too, one of Om's reflections toward the end of his post:

" curation and sharing of content has become as important as writing. By sharing videos, photos, links, or quotes we are all essentially editors and the sharing itself is an act of editorializing."

Curation (even while some dislike the word) is a key part of what we are doing these days, and I've personally enjoyed Om's "Om Says" newsletter and sharing he's been doing.

Thanks for 10 years of writing and sharing, Om! Congrats on the milestone!

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Skype 5.x Beta For Mac OS X Includes Hidden "Push To Talk" Feature

Skypelogo-shadowIt turns out that the Skype 5.x Beta releases for Mac OS X have a hidden feature. In my last Skype-related post about the simultaneous release of 5.7 Beta for Windows and 5.4 Beta for Mac OS X, I mentioned that the release notes for the 5.7 Beta for Windows included a "Push To Talk" feature that was not in the Mac OS X version. From those Windows release notes:

Push to Talk

We have introduced a Push to Talk feature in Skype. Many people who are playing multiplayer games have requested this from us.

With this feature you can set a hotkey which will toggle microphone muting on Skype call.

You can set the Push to Talk up on the hotkey's selection under tools > options > advanced > hotkeys.

In my post, I mentioned that while I personally wasn't sure I saw the need for this feature, it was an example of the continued missing parity between the two products (Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac OS X).

This morning I received a nice note from Skype's product manager for the Skype for Mac product letting me know that this "Push To Talk" feature actually is included in the Skype for Mac 5.x Beta releases, albeit as a hidden feature.  To use "Push To Talk" during a Skype call, you need to press (ready for this?):

Control + Option + Command + Up Arrow

Yep... three keys with your left hand and then the up-arrow with your right hand. (or yes, you could press the command and option keys on the right side, but you still need the control key on the left side.)

It does work.  I tried it on a call and found that once I pressed the key combination the call was in "Push To Talk" mode and I had to hold down that key combination to speak.  I was also able to just click on the icon of the muted microphone in my Skype window to leave this "PTT" mode and go back to regular microphone usage.

Unfortunately, unlike the Windows version, there does not seem to be any way, yet, to configure the key combination. I don't regularly play multiplayer online games so I don't know whether this particular key combination is a problem. It just seems to me to be inefficient in that it requires both hands.  It would be great if Skype would allow the configuration of this key combo as the 5.x release for Mac OS X leaves beta.

Anyway... for those of you using the Skype 5 Beta for Mac OS X, you, too, can now use "Push To Talk"...

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